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Make] Projects 


Written By: Steven Robert Cypherd 



Digital multimeter (1) 

Tactile switch (4) 

Hot Glue aun& hot glue(1) 

• On/off switch (1) 

Soldering iron (1) 

Battery Holder (B) for 4 AAA 

recharaeable Batteries (1) 


Kids of all types need an easy way into electronics or they will get confused or bored with it. 
Putting electronics into simple blocks that the kids can play with may peak their interest in 
electronics. A MakerMeter is one or more blocks of electronic components built in away 
that the kids can play with. Teaching is more fun if the kids are having fun. My first 
experience of electronics was with my Dad's Simpson 260 analogue volt/ohm meter. 
Conductivity is the first step to understanding electronics. The MakerMeter should be built 
for that group of kids as something they can each take home and play with. 

The parents, teachers and supporters will design and build the electronics behind each 
MakerMeter. They should also design the look of the MakerMeter so that it is safe and easy 
to use for that group of kids. Keep things simple so that everyone understands the circuits. 
Let the electronics people deal with the electronic details. With a little graphics skill you can 
build an informative functional MakerMeter the kids will love and show off to their friends. 

Each family or supporter of each kid should pay for or buy the parts for the MakerMeter. 
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Depending on time you could have a design-and-build meeting and another meeting for the 
kids, or just one meeting. You must determine if the kids in that group need to know the 
electronics behind the MakerMeter. 

My big-kid fun MakerMeter is designed like a simple breadboard like what us big kids use to 
test electronics. In my MakerMeter the electronic tests only need the positive voltage 
because the ground is taken care of by the MakerMeter electronics. With proper instruction 
the kids will learn electronics like we did. 

To make a MakerMeter you will need someone that knows electronics and the building and 
soldering of something like a MakerMeter. You need a graphics documentation person that 
can do the art and documents of the MakerMeter. A skilled builder of the parts of a 
MakerMeter would be nice, but most people just need a little help in this area in the form of a 
MakerMeter Build meeting. 

It is endless what a MakerMeter can be! 

MakerMeter should fun for the kids. 

Conductivity is tested simply by two metal probes that, when they touch a conductive thing, 
cause a light to light up. The components needed are a two- to four-AA battery holder, hook- 
up wire, Thick solid wire for probes and an LED (if your battery source is above 3 volts use 
a resistor) or light bulb. 

Resistance is demonstrated by adding a potentiometer (pot) or resistor between the light's 
positive lead and the power lead. The light changes brightness as the pot is turned. Have an 
internal 220-330 ohm resistor connected between the pot's output and the LED's positive 
lead to protect the LED. 

Capacitance is more fun if they see it in action. Hook the positive lead of the cap to a 3.3k 
resistor and the other lead of the resistor to V+. Connect a button to the cap's positive lead 
on one side and then to the light's positive lead on the other side. The battery charges the 
capacitor through the resistor. Only when the cap is full do the kids get a bright light for a 
second when button is pushed. 

Diodes need hook-up wire or a socket. If the diode is connected one way the light lights and 
the other way it doesn't. Explain it to them. In my big-kid fun MakerMeter the kid must also 
attach a jumper from V+ to the diode terminal. This is just how us big kids test a part. Great 
for a Touch Tag. 

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Transistors need hook-up wire or a socket. Use a light-dependent resistor (LDR) and the 
light changes with the wave of a hand. Use a microphone and the light changes with a 
sound. Many things are possible. 

Step 1 — MakerMeter 

• Have a meeting to see what kind of a MakerMeter you want to build. Work out each circuit 
and test each part. Keep the documentation simple so that everyone understands it. Then 
build the MakerMeter on a breadboard and see how it works. A MakerMeter should be fun 
and informative. A kind of toy to teach electronics. 

• Put a kit together for your MakerMeter laying out cost and where to get the supplies. Plan 
your build meeting for the electronics behind each circuit. Write instructions in the form of 
a personal workbook for the kids. Write a manual (schematics, details, etc.) for the 
parents and the supporters of the kids. Plan the MakerMeter meetings. 

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Step 2 

• Graphics can add fun if they are well designed. Make things simple for everyone. Try not 
to have too many complicated things or applications. 

• I used Corel Photo-Paint and Microsoft Word to make this article. I used Fritzing to make 
the circuit boards. 

• The depiction of each electronics component should be fun and only detailed enough to 
show its function. 

• After the circuits are made and tested make them kid-safe. Any parts that are going to be 
put on the faceplate should be covered in glue. The gel epoxies are perfect for this. 
Remember, this is a kid's toy. 

• Touch Tags are little MakerMeters you use to test other MakerMeters. 

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Step 3 

• Make the circuit board for the MakerMeter with all parts visible on the outside. As the kid 
gets more interested in the electronics you can show them the circuit board. Label things if 
you want to. Have your instruction book handy so you can show them the circuits. Tape or 
glue the wires down so that they show how the circuit works. 

• Making printed circuit boards is easy now. Print the PDF at 100%. For laser printers print 
on the smooth side of the transparency film. Make sure you can read "MakerMeter" when 
you apply the film to your pre-sensitized board. 

• One circuit is just for 6 volts. The other has a series resistor labeled "RL" that is used to 
adjust the voltage that powers the circuit. Select RL so that V+ is about 6 volts. For a 9- 
volt supply RL is about 330Q. For 12 volts it is about 560Q. 

Step 4 





Big Boy Fun 

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• For the kids make workbooks for them to take home. Make manuals for the parents and 
supporters of the kids. 

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Step 5 

Face plate and breadboard. 

Step 6 



• The female headers simulate a breadboard like us big kids use. The headers are what they 
call breakable. You cut them apart with sharp diagonal cutters at the contacts, not between 
them. Clean up the edges. Solder wires to the leads before gluing the part in place. 

• The probes I made are simple. Household wiring is perfect for so many things. Thick 
copper wire makes a good probe. I soldered on a wire and then I put a glob of hot melt glue 
on it. Quickly put a piece of heat shrink tubing on it and roll it around to spread the glue. 
Use a heat gun to shrink it. Clean up the excess glue. 

• The little tactile buttons are cheap and easy to use. The design on the back shows which 
two contacts are connected together. Usually on the long side. Solder wires to opposite 
corners on the inside of the lead and this keeps the hole smaller. 

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Step 7 

• Build it 

• More Face Plates 

Build with printed circuit board. 

st generated on 2012-12-02 12:53:35 AM. 

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